By Oto-Obong Clement
The management of the indigenous rap group Okpo Rekordz says it never believed people outside the shores of Nigeria would yearn to listen to their content which popularizes life in the streets of Calabar with most of their lyrics in Efik, their mother tongue.
The manager of the label, Ephraim Inyang who goes by the stage name ‘Space’ said this in an exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch in Calabar recently where he unveiled plans by the rap group to break into the global entertainment sphere using their Efik language just as artistes of Yoruba and Igbo origins have done.
“I never expected that people in California could ask for our CD, that is why we decided to launch two of our album online (so that) people who ask how they can get the music can download it” says Space who says the label’s name came to him while performing at Marian, Calabar, Cross River State while listing how he met the current members of the crew.
“The name Okpo Rekordz was gotten during a freestyle night on the way back from a show at Marian, we met with all the artists because in Cross River State we believe freestyle give us the strength when one or two artists gather, there must be a battle so it means, you must show your strength and we always like freestyling.
“We were on free style competitions and Mhoneyz was free styling during the battle when I mentioned Okpo Record and I look at the name and the song, OKPO REKORDZ. Though Okpo in Calabar is a masquerade but for records things, Okpo means male and the Rekordz means to record. I now merged the thing together and said let’s work on this, I met with my CEO UpperX, M.honeyz , Wally (the photographer) and we brought ourselves together, that was three years ago.” Space said.
Furthermore, Inyang said the official formation of the record label which is a registered trademark was on February 5, 2013 with the crew’s first album released on November 30, 2013 which was followed by two albums in 2015 while the fourth studio album “Welcome to Bateba” was released earlier this year.
Like several groups, crews, bands and duos over the years, Space says Okpo Rekordz which started with 8 artistes has shrink in size and had a difficult time going through the split.
He says “(We started) with eight artistes but now we have three strong artists and the other five were expecting luxury without struggling and since everybody has a free world they feel like going out there is better, for example, if you are in school you need to pass through tests and exams. The same thing is in music industry but some people think you don’t have a downfall and they don’t want to experience that. So I have to go on with the artists that are serious.
“I was not discouraged when the other artists left. Rather, I gave Upper-X a target to use 5 years and round up every of their activities before they get to the number of perfection which is 7 since seven is a number of perfection before the year of jubilee which is 10. They accepted this and began fetching for artistes together.
“We had a vision that is why we were not discouraged because we know where we are coming from. We talk to people to see the vision but they did not see just as it happened in the days of Noah. Noah talked to people but believe me it was only Noah’s family that entered the boat. Since many were called but few are chosen, I am okay to work with the three since they did not discourage me, I need to work with them and am okay with the three.”
According to Space, the group which has performed on stage with the likes of Ruggedman, 2shot, Dee Asha, P Square, MI, Akon, is grateful to the berthing of Hit FM which has given Cross Riverians an alternative to the state owned CRBC and Paradise FM.
Space also criticized the little attention paid to the entertainment sector by the state government. He said if given the opportunity to sit with the governor, Okpo Rekordz will ask only for support in terms of sponsorship and endorsement while debunking claims that the label is a criminal gang and disclosed what they wish to achieve in the nearest future.
“We take Cross River State and our language to the global stage and not only in Calabar South as some people believe since we come from Calabar South we are not educated.
“Okpo Rekordz is not a criminal gang though we work more in the street since music is life. What you see and experience is what you can sing, you cannot imagine it but when you come across how they are collecting people phones you can record that one in your brain. You watch movies, even in America things like that happen, it happens everywhere not only in Calabar South. Some, they put in a movie like the movie we acted last year December and will be released very soon.
“As far as entertainment is concerned, Okpo Rekordz is doing everything. As a member of Okpo Rekordz, you can also be a DJ. We have a studio, we have someone who is doing I.T, we have equipment, all the facility, we have our own personal stage, we are now international.
“I thank God for Double Ice Music and Hon Uduak Akiba for giving us their backup as sponsor. It not easy, it’s only in Lagos you can see such.”
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